CWM Mss 39
Hemings, Richard S. 1834-1919, Papers 1858-1881 .2 cf (1 box)
Richard S. Hemmings, a native of Birmingham, England, was a life-long circus performer and proprietor. As a youth, Hemmings learned tumbling, riding, and tightrope walking. In 1855 Hemmings traveled to America where he performed with a number of different circuses including Chiarini’s Cuban Circus, VanAmbugh & Co, the New National Circus, Sloat and Sheppard, and Sloat and Sheppards “Joe Pentland” Circus. In 1860 Hemmings partnered with Dan Gardner to form Gardner and Hemmings Circus, which operated for much of the next decade under a number of different titles including Gardner, Hemmings, and Madigan and Gardner, Hemmings, and
Cooper. In 1868 Gardner’s name was dropped from the title and the show went out as Hemmings, Cooper, and Whitby and continued under that name until 1870. After Whitby was killed in Vicksburg, Mississippi Hemmings and Cooper remained as partners and continued until 1872. Hemmings would continue in the circus business for the next decade working with a number of different partners or different shows including Adam Forepaugh’s Circus until his retirement in 1883. He died on February 19, 1919.
Scope and content
The collection consists of four hand written diaries kept by Richard Hemmings, and involves at least two different shows. The diaries contain such information as route locations, show dates, and weather conditions. Also found in the diaries are some financial records noting receipts and expenses and some employee matters. The 1881 personal diary only contains sporadic entries, primarily financial transactions most not associated with any known circus.
A combined photocopy of the 1869 Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby circus diary and the 1866 Gardner & Hemmings Circus diary is also included.
Box 1 Folder 1 Personal Diary, Richard Hemmings, 1881
Box 1 Folder 2 Route Book Gardner & Hemmings Circus, 1866
Box 1 Folder 3 Route Book, Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby Circus,1869
Box 1 Folder 4 Route Book Sloat & Sheppard Circus, 1858
Box 1 Folder 5 Photocopy of 1866 and 1869 route books